The Miami Dolphins have signed rookie long snapper Rex Sunahara, who will likely handle the snapping duties while Blake Ferguson remains on the COVID-19 reserve list.
Ferguson, the former LSU long snapper the Dolphins selected in the sixth round of the 2020 draft, is one of the five players the Dolphins placed on the COVID-19 reserve list because they either tested positive for the virus or had exposure to someone who has become infected by coronavirus amid the pandemic.
At this point there’s no timetable for Ferguson’s return, but he needs to test negative for the virus two before he’s cleared to enter the team’s facility, and start practicing with the Dolphins.
Linebacker Jerome Baker, defensive tackle Zach Sieler, cornerback Cordea Tankersley, Ferguson and rookie defensive tackle Benito Jones were the players placed on the COVID-19 reserve list earlier week. Jones was taken off the list two days after being put on it, become the first NFL player on the COVID-19 reserve list to be removed from it.
Until Ferguson is removed from the list the Dolphins need someone to help the kickers and punters get their work in. That’s where Sunahara comes in. He’s an undrafted free agent from West Virginia, where he was a semifinalist for the 2019 Patrick Mannelly Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top long snapper.
Sunahara played in 25 career games at West Virginia and handled long snapping duties for punts, field goals on extra points in all 24 games as a junior and senior. He originally began his collegiate career at Rhode Island before transferring to West Virginia in 2016.
All players must pass the NFL’s protocol to work in the facility, and that requires three negative COVID-19 tests.
If a player tests positive but has no symptoms, he can return 10 days after the initial positive test, or after two consecutive negative tests within five days of the initial positive test.
If the player has a positive test and symptoms, he can return after at least 72 hours after symptoms have passed, or at least 10 days after symptoms first appear.
Players who have close contact with someone who has symptoms will be tested and isolated as soon as possible. If the player has close contact with someone who has a positive COVID-19 test, he must have two negative tests before being allowed to return.
If a player has tested negative after coming into contact and continues to have no symptoms, he may return to the facility but will have increased symptom monitoring and more frequent testing.
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